Do we know why we go through hard times and why God allows them to happen? Here is a woman who feels she’s always been under dark clouds, and will likely remain there and never see the sun. Yet, she chooses to hold on to God and this one promise speaks strongly to her – Psalm 18:6 “In my distress I called upon the Lord, and He heard my voice.”
APRIL 25, 2022
My son is an intelligent boy yet naïve at the same time. During the growing years, I was a struggling parent and, in many ways, I still am even though the children are adults in their mid-20s. When the children were young, I was unable to manage the family, unable to deal adequately with my husband’s alcoholism, dithered between guilty passive-aggressive parenting and at the same time, felt the weight of duty as the eldest child to my aging parents.
Often, I wake up with a migraine, most days I skipped breakfast, served three meals and deprived my kids of treats because I feared we’d run out of money. My back ached all the time. I hated that my husband had no qualms about going out to binge drink a few times a week. I equated the amount spent on booze to the extra food, treat, toys and holidays. And I could not get through to him because I mistook the times that he was not drinking as sobriety when in fact it was just an addled, foggy mind. He tells me these days that he has no memory of this and that. Imagine my hurt.
In the end, all of these were excuses. I could not confront my weaknesses and over time, lost the ability to say what needed to be said. Oh, there was plenty of shouting and screaming, all reactive and did little to help. The irony was my friends called me superwoman. If at all, it made me carry the weight for years. I prayed and begged God to free me until it struck me that this is my lot, this is my cross and sacrifice is my middle name. God must have been there because there were moments of joy that even as I recall them, were dotted with traces of sorrow. I did not feel true happiness.
‘He would have felt my rejection of him in his growing years‘
Gibran said our children come through us. They do not belong to us. But it does not mean they do not feel. My son felt so much that I cannot even comprehend the emotional trauma he continues to carry with him because of our insensitive parenting. He would have felt my rejection of him in his growing years. My push was to make him as independent as possible. By the time he reached his teen years, he was as independent as it could be. My young man can cook, clean, run errands, get from point A to point B by bus or train. When it was time to get a driving license, he passed in the first instance.
But underneath all that, I had already lost him. He got caught up with the wrong company and drugs. What started as an experiment led to addiction. Honestly till today, I am not sure when or how it started and why it started. I can only blame myself for not monitoring him as closely as I should. Not scrutinising him or his friends. I trusted a teenager who learn to lie to me, to say things that I wanted to hear and to do things behind my back. His 21st birthday “present” to me was a RM15,000 debt to a loan shark which we paid up with interest. He is now in his third rehab and he plans to leave even before his probation is up. This third rehab has helped him become strong physically but he is not emotionally or spiritually strong and could easily relapse. And that worries me. Do I let go and let God?
I never left the Garden of Gethsemane. Thoreau’s words of “men living life in quiet desperation” rings loudly with such pain as I watch this horror waiting to unfold before me, enough to make me wonder what kind of a joke is my life. What have I not trusted or surrendered God? How have I failed in clinging to God? What is the use of my life so far but to see endless hurt and pain? What use is my trust if utter failure and pain are my rewards? There is no glory? Resurrection is fleeting.
‘A lifetime of walking on thorns can only mean a bloodier future is in store’
My husband has nothing to say or offer by way of comfort except that he cannot manage our son anymore. For me, it’s a bitter reminder of his drunken days. What use is his sobriety when the result is the same of a man who is afraid. Daily prayer and rosary kept me sane for years, and now I feel hopelessly desperate and utterly hurt. A lifetime of walking on thorns can only mean a bloodier future is in store. I can only trust the path God has laid out for me. And my son.
And where is my church or my community? People shrink away when they hear that your beloved and precious child is an addict. People gossip and make assumptions about you and your family. As a family, we did not have to endure scathing looks but I recognise the double entendre of so-called well-meaning phrases. I too used such words. If this entire child raising was an exercise in humility for me, then be known that I am beaten. I am silenced. I can only wish that societies give up prejudices, stigmas and stereotypes, then perhaps the world can be a better place.
I am not some uneducated woman but one who studied, travelled widely and worked at some fancy foreign multinational. All I can say is it is written and I have to accept it. My late parents went through tough times and I remember distinctly when both of them had said the same thing to me – but years apart – my mum when I was growing up and my dad before he passed away. They said: Whatever happens in our lives is as God had intended. We sat in silence, each lost in our thoughts. Me, not totally understanding the profound depth in those 10 little words. And it was in those moments of silence that clarity came. God never left me. He loves me and I just need to trust Him unequivocally. To forever cling to Him.